News

Sno-Isle changes porn policy

Viewing Internet porn at the local library will get harder in the new year, at least for those under 18.

The Sno-Isle Regional Library System will take steps in 2004 to come into full compliance with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act. The broad-reaching act requires all computers in libraries nationwide to provide filtered Internet access only.

Sno-Isle, including the libraries in Island County, currently provides filtered access on all computers in children’s areas, while adults have the option of filtered or unfiltered access. They can also give their children under age 18 permission to access unfiltered sites.

Sno-Isle board member Dani Fowler, of Oak Harbor, thinks it was the right move.

“I think the general public will be satisfied,” she said.

The library board approved compliance unanimously at the December board meeting.

Although compliance is not mandatory, libraries that choose not to follow the act will not receive federal e-rate discounts for Internet service.

Fowler said she didn’t know if the board would have voted to change the library system’s Internet access rules if not for the financial incentive.

“It seemed to be working well with parents deciding what their children viewed,” she said.

One question that remains to be worked out is just how stringent the blocking software will be. It remains to be seen whether legitimate Internet searches, such as for breast cancer information, will be blocked.

Fowler said the filter is meant to block graphics, such as those that are too graphic, and not text.

“The biggest issue is, what are the key words,” she said.

The library system expects to have the filters in place by the July deadline.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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